Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why "Redskins" Shouldn't Be Changed

I'm fairly certain anyone who even slightly follows the NFL knows of the "controversy" over the Washington Redskins' name. If you haven't, here's the brief of it. "Redskin" is supposedly a pejorative used to disparage the Native Americans. The United States Congress is even pressuring Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, to change the name on the grounds that "Redskin" is equally offensive and more deeply rooted in offensiveness than "nigger." The term "Redskin" is apparently one of the most offensive terms in all of mankind's history.

Well, I'm writing to tell you, that it is not. And this will be a choppy rant that won't be as organized or professional as I wish it would be.

"Redskin" was not used to disparage anyone until movies ran with the term. Those movies also do not predate the use of the term for the NFL team. The term is so unused in it's offensiveness towards Natives, that there is absolutely no recording of the term "Redskin" in any manner of offensiveness on the planet Earth. The only "recording" we have is recent interviews where Natives claim they were passed in cars and called "filthy Redskin" or "dirty Redskin" or "stupid Redskin." In absolutely none of these phrases is the term "Redskin" the offensive term, it is the adjective ahead of "Redskin" which is the offender.

"Redskin" was used to define the color of skin of the Native Americans. They were also called Indian for this exact reason... they looked very similar to peoples from the country of India due to the color of their skin. We identify people by their skin color. This opens the door for racism, sure, but we generally see before we get to know a person. We will always be a visual species, and that comes with the mistake of identifying by color.

But "Redskin" isn't used in a derogatory fashion. The only people who speak poorly of the Redskins are fans of other teams, who also hear the same insults hurled at them. The Washington Redskins are a storied and proud franchise who have always represented Natives with respect. I grew up proud to celebrate the Natives, of which I share blood in my own ancestry.

The fact that there is no actual evidence to support the claim that "Redskin" is an offensive term. One very important piece of information I use in regards to support this claim is Sitting Bull's quote referring to his own skin as red. It was their own identifier.

Many use some flawed idea that "red skins" was used to describe the scalps of Natives taken for coin. This is false, unsupported, and not held up in any legal discussion. The scalps of Natives were taken, but they were not referred to as "red skins."

There are far more atrocious representations in the NFL than "Redskins." Names which are factually negative and honor disgusting acts throughout the American history. Such names include Cowboys, Raiders, Buccaneers, Vikings, Bills, and Chiefs.

The first name I want to select from that list is the Buffalo Bills, named after Buffalo Bill, a man who, in fact, collected the scalps of Natives for reward.

The Raiders and Buccaneers represent pirates. In fact, the Buccaneers celebrate the pirate idea in their stadium well beyond the uniform, logo, and name. I shouldn't even have to tell you why pirates were horrible people.

The Vikings fall very much into the same category as pirates. They were pillagers, rapists, and murderers who terrorized much of the Northern hemisphere.

The Chiefs are offensive because they honor only the highest of each tribe. Not every Native was a chief, nor could most of them be a chief. It's always better to honor the whole group opposed to individuals.

The Cowboys are by far the most offensively-named team in all of the NFL. Nevermind the Redskins/Cowboys rivalry, let us just focus on what it means to be a cowboy. "The Cowboys" were a group of outlaws, most famously, the gang that got into the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. This group of outlaws were thieves, murderers, rapists, and robbers. The Cowboys also retrieved Native scalps (and Mexican scalps) to redeem for their pardon for various crimes.

But good ol' Jerry Jones has never been asked to change his team's name...

9 comments: